Archaeological excavations first took place at Crvena Stijena from 1954 – 1964. Archaeologists at the time wished to find out the age of the site and what it contained. Therefore, they excavated very quickly, and dug a large, deep hole in the richest part of the site, which was towards the back wall of the rock-shelter. They documented the geological formation of the different stratigraphic layers. They kept track of the typology of the stone artifacts in each layer, which gave them information about the culture and time period of the various occupations. They also reconstructed paleoenvironments through analysis of the animal species represented by the butchered animal bones found in each layer as well as pollen. However, they unfortunately did not save all of the artifacts, so our understanding of the site is incomplete.
In 2004, a modern, scientific excavation began, which provided important information on the chronology of the site, the artifacts, the range of animals hunted and eaten, and its geological history of formation. These results were published in a book available as a pdf here.
In 2017, a collaboration was established between the National Museum of Montenegro and the University of Minnesota. Each year since (except for 2020), this team has conducted excavations at the site at the cutting edge of science.
Excavation requires patient scraping with special tools and brushes so as not to damage delicate animal bones and stone tools.
University students during the 2021 field season; they came from Montenegro, Serbia, and the United States to learn archaeological excavation techniques.
Excavation requires careful cleaning of archaeological profiles in order to monitor the stratigraphy.
In the lab, the washed sediment is carefully examined, and all artifacts and bones are removed and saved.